A recent study on human willpower, involving college students and baked goods, should be cautionary here. Its results suggest that our willpower gets tired, like a muscle, so when we use it a lot in the course of a day we end up hardly being able to use it at all by day’s end. It seems to follow that, faced with media’s stronger, more regular seductions, we’re bound to give in earlier and more often. Perhaps this helps explain why the ends of long American workdays often feature alcohol, dessert, and hours of consumer media.
Then there’s the actual content. It’s probably clear to anyone over the age of 18 or so that content has undergone a sort of Incredible Hulk de-evolution that makes it both dumber and somehow also much more powerful. A good example of this (brought to my attention by a random post on Facebook) is TLC, founded as The Learning Channel by the former Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, together with NASA, to enrich American minds, but which now grips American eyeballs with Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Ratings, no doubt, are up.
The media of my childhood, mostly weekly television shows and overused VHS tapes, was like a good pet. Sure, it was a little costly to keep around, but it was lovable, and I could always shut it out in the yard for a while. Now, though, media is always with me, always trying to snag my attention and siphon away as much as possible to sell to advertisers. It feels like it’s evolved from a cute little pet into a frighteningly efficient parasite.
It’s hard to say something new about the damaging effects of the internet /new media at this point, but I think this article is pretty on point (and horrifying). Blah blah blah, ironic that I’m posting it on tumblr, etc.